I have been absent from 25twofour, but the war on beards continues to rage as it has over the last few weeks. First, pure speculation on the part of some television producer is now bad mouthing beards in the name of radical Islam. Commenting on the reputed rise of fundamental Islam into the Egyptian revolution for democracy, producer Amr Koura stated: “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.” Interesting speculation, but I’m not buying it.
This linkage of radical Islam to beards motif continued across Risk’s most difficult-to-capture continent, as Tajikistan footballer Parviz Tursunov was banned from his club team for wearing a beard. Really. These cruel injustices were joined by not one, but two different robberies committed by perpetrators donning fake beards in an attempt to escape arrest and further incite the population to distrust those with beards. It’s hard to blame the man outside of Buffalo, whose successful armed robbery was carried out with a large fake beard. If I could commit a crime and seek to put said crime at the feet of those that the public would be most likely to castigate instead of myself, I would do so as well. As for the woman in Modesto, CA that attempted to draw her beard on with marker in an attempt to elude police, well, not even the most beard-biased man in the world would believe your ruse. Still, the fact that people wish to injure the reputation of the bearded in this country sickens me deeply.
Finally, yesterday, a federal court in Virginia held that Virginia’s prison system did not violate a Muslim inmate’s religious rights when it refused to allow him to grow a beard, which he believes is required by his religion. A beard smiled upon by a woman is sacred in itself, but a beard smiled upon by God is holy indeed. Shame on the Virginia prison system and shame on presiding Judge Samuel G. Wilson, who, it should be noted, has not a whisker on his face. I didn’t possibly think I could grow more frustrated with the current state of affairs, until this stupid AT&T commercial came on. I’m sure you’ve seen this spot, which pokes fun at a regal man with a beard as his ex-girlfriend digitally jumps his good friend’s bones while they are on a ski lift together. Would the ad wizards who made this ad find it so humorous if it was the bearded man so happy to steal what once belonged to his good friend? I doubt it.
There are some good things going on in the world, and specifically in sports. Opening Day finally arrived, and baseball is already in full swing. It’s early, but looking at the standings there are some familiar names already gracing the tops of the divisions., The Phillies, with their dominant starting five, are looking good thus far. The AL Champion Texas Rangers hold first place in the AL West. And then, of course, there are the New York Yankees.
Despite the fact that the Red Sox are the trendy pick to win the AL East this year, with a couple huge new acquisitions in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees are off to an early lead in the AL East. Additionally, the Yanks are still the team with the largest payroll and last year’s #1 offense in the majors without huge years from Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, or soon-to-be-called-up Jesus Montero, the Yanks next great slugger. The Yankees are the winningest franchise in baseball (and really, American sports) history. They have the largest fan base, they are on national TV the most times, and their ballpark is the most outrageously expensive place to watch a game in all of baseball. The influence the Yankees have on both sports as well as pop culture is enormous, and that is why their anti-beard policies continue to remain the greatest thorn in the side of the beard equality movement since Peter I of Russia’s infamous beard tax of 1705.
Created by George Steinbrenner when he became the owner in 1973, the Yankees do not allow unruly hair cuts or beards in any form as part of their team rules. Only the infinitely creepier mustache is an option while wearing the hallowed pinstripes. What this basically tells children growing up, not just as Yankees fans, but as followers of the game in general, is that “winners don’t wear beards,” or perhaps even worse, that “people with beards are your enemy.” This kind of hateful policy should not stand, and indeed it doesn’t have to stand. In 1991, Yankee management ordered the beloved Don Mattingly benched due to the “mullet” hair style he had been sporting, another no-no according to Yankee code. Nonetheless, Mattingly refused to change his hairstyle and eventually the Yanks’ front office kowtowed to the pressure of the New York media, inserting Donnie Baseball back into the lineup after a mere two games. All it would take is a current Yankees star, such as Robinson Cano, or especially The Captain, Derek Jeter, to take a stand against beard discrimination and grow the facial fur during the middle of the season. Forced to accept the beard as part of their team or risk losing what’s most important, a division title and a shot at the Series, the Steinbrenners would undoubtedly allow the beard to play and this silly policy can be written off as a foolish remnant of their father’s regime. Think about it, Derek, you could be that hero to me and those I speak for, instead of just those that drink Gatorade.